Valero Energy Corporation's (NYSE:VLO) Stock Is Going Strong: Have Financials A Role To Play?

Published
June 29, 2022
NYSE:VLO
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Valero Energy (NYSE:VLO) has had a great run on the share market with its stock up by a significant 16% over the last three months. We wonder if and what role the company's financials play in that price change as a company's long-term fundamentals usually dictate market outcomes. In this article, we decided to focus on Valero Energy's ROE.

Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. Simply put, it is used to assess the profitability of a company in relation to its equity capital.

View our latest analysis for Valero Energy

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

Return on equity can be calculated by using the formula:

Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Valero Energy is:

14% = US$2.9b ÷ US$20b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2022).

The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. One way to conceptualize this is that for each $1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made $0.14 in profit.

Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?

We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. Based on how much of its profits the company chooses to reinvest or "retain", we are then able to evaluate a company's future ability to generate profits. Generally speaking, other things being equal, firms with a high return on equity and profit retention, have a higher growth rate than firms that don’t share these attributes.

Valero Energy's Earnings Growth And 14% ROE

To begin with, Valero Energy seems to have a respectable ROE. And on comparing with the industry, we found that the the average industry ROE is similar at 18%. For this reason, Valero Energy's five year net income decline of 36% raises the question as to why the decent ROE didn't translate into growth. Based on this, we feel that there might be other reasons which haven't been discussed so far in this article that could be hampering the company's growth. For example, it could be that the company has a high payout ratio or the business has allocated capital poorly, for instance.

Furthermore, even when compared to the industry, which has been shrinking its earnings at a rate 7.1% in the same period, we found that Valero Energy's performance is pretty disappointing, as it suggests that the company has been shrunk its earnings at a rate faster than the industry.

past-earnings-growth
NYSE:VLO Past Earnings Growth June 29th 2022

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. What is VLO worth today? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether VLO is currently mispriced by the market.

Is Valero Energy Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

Valero Energy's declining earnings is not surprising given how the company is spending most of its profits in paying dividends, judging by its three-year median payout ratio of 56% (or a retention ratio of 44%). With only a little being reinvested into the business, earnings growth would obviously be low or non-existent. Our risks dashboard should have the 3 risks we have identified for Valero Energy.

Moreover, Valero Energy has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more suggesting that management must have perceived that the shareholders prefer dividends over earnings growth. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company's future payout ratio is expected to drop to 41% over the next three years. However, the company's ROE is not expected to change by much despite the lower expected payout ratio.

Conclusion

Overall, we feel that Valero Energy certainly does have some positive factors to consider. Yet, the low earnings growth is a bit concerning, especially given that the company has a high rate of return. Investors could have benefitted from the high ROE, had the company been reinvesting more of its earnings. As discussed earlier, the company is retaining a small portion of its profits. With that said, we studied current analyst estimates and discovered that analysts expect the company's earnings growth to improve slightly. Sure enough, this could bring some relief to shareholders. Are these analysts expectations based on the broad expectations for the industry, or on the company's fundamentals? Click here to be taken to our analyst's forecasts page for the company.

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